Having spent more of my lifetime teaching than not (yes, I’m THAT old!), I was thinking recently about why I love my job. Here’s what I came up with:
10 – I am constantly inspired to keep learning. Because I have taught new grade levels, content, subjects and curriculum over the years, I have to keep learning. As I received my new assignments over the years, it usually meant spending the summer getting up to speed on whatever I would be teaching in the fall. Talk about keeping my brain nimble – I have taught (in no particular order): 6th, 7th and 8th grades, drama, social studies, language arts, science, math, reading, book clubs, gifted and talented, reading interventions, tech ed and journalism. Each time my grade level or subject changed, I was challenged to gain new knowledge.
9 – I’m never bored. I find middle school students endlessly entertaining. I never know what my students will come up with next. Sometimes, my kids ask a question that I never saw coming and I don’t have a good answer for it. Or, their answer to a question is correct, but totally not what I expected. Add in the crazy things they share with me in the hall before class and I find plenty of amusement throughout my day.
8 – If I need fashion advice, I have lots of fashionistas at the ready. I can always count on them to let me know if what I’m wearing is good or bad. Some children tell me outright, some tell me with nothing more than a look. While I might think my shirt is all that, my students will quickly disabuse me of that notion. On the other hand, it’s gratifying when a stylish young teenager compliments me on my style choices. Since they’re able to spend so much more time studying the fashion magazines, if I pass muster with them, I must be doing okay. (Or not – keeping in mind the glittery, sequined, neon choices they sometimes make!)
7 – Discounts! Okay, so the discounts are usually on items I can’t afford, anyway, but it’s nice to know corporations value what I do. We’ll just leave it at that.
6 – Answer keys. One of the best things about being a teacher is being able to check your answer in the back of the book. This allows me to look smarter than I am. (No, I’m not above using that technique to convince my students that I’m smart!) While I am okay with my students being smarter than I am (and they often are!) it’s nice to have the answers to the questions before I ask them.
5 – Being a teacher gives me something to think about on long runs. Those times when I’m out on the road, all alone with my thoughts, it’s nice to have something to think about. As I run along, I can ponder how to better teach a lesson, how to structure an upcoming unit, or how to reach a difficult student. I’m never at a lack for thought-provoking material. This comes in handy when I’m training for a half marathon!
4 – Taking a break. While I love my job, there is something to be said for the feeling I get when it’s spring break, summer vacation or Christmas break. Having time in front of me to sleep in, catch up on schoolwork or prepare for future classes is a welcome break from routine. Most of the time, I’m good about following routines, but I’m just right-brained enough to enjoy a break from those very routines.
3 – Other teachers. I love collaborating with other teachers. It’s gratifying to meet with other teachers and solve problems. I find we’re always better as a group than alone. Working together, we become better teachers (and we’re lots of fun!) Middle School teachers are awesome – we can get incredibly silly together.
2 – The Teacher’s Lounge. I know – lots of schools have teacher’s lounges that include negative conversations and depressing talk. However, at my school, it’s the total opposite. The laughter rings out from our lunch times daily. The teachers I eat lunch with are hilarious and we leave lunch time energized and ready to take on the afternoon with renewed vigor. My classroom is across the hall from the lounge and I can state, unequivocally, every lunch hour is like that. Hanging out with other teachers in my building is a genuine perk of being a teacher.
1 – Making a Difference. No list of what I love about teaching would be complete without this statement. I make a difference. As students move on to other grades and other buildings, some will write me a note, or tell me in person. Sometimes, it’s not until years later. I’ve had students who came back to observe me as part of their teacher training tell me I’m the reason they wanted to become a teacher. This is the most important reason I’m a teacher. I can change lives.
I love my job.